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5 tips to help your startup conduct outstanding usability tests


Jack Verweij

Articles by Nova’s Marketing Executive, Jack Verweij.

Updated 20 April 22



Usability tests identify how your target audience interact with your solution. This kind of learning is crucial to developing a successful product that solves your users problem.


A successful usability test will identify:

  • Whether the solution actually fixes their ‘problem’
  • How easily users can navigate through your ‘solution’
  • Where users are finding difficulties in your ‘solution’
  • Changes that will improve your target users experience


Here are five tips for conducting usability tests straight from the mouths of our experienced startup consultants!


"Keep it scientific, keep it consistent.”

- Richard Dean

Identify your constants and variables as part of the planning. You should aim to keep as consistent as you can, only the desired variables should be changed otherwise you won't have certainty in the outcomes.


If you're talking to the user beforehand, write a script and stick to it for every participant. If you're deciding between differences in designs then ensure everything else is the same and only change the variables you want to test.


“Always start by reassuring the participant that they are not being tested, the product is.”

- Katie-Rose Cawthorne

In order to get the most out of your usability tests, you need to ensure they are as candid as possible. If they are aware that there are no wrong answers, they’re more likely to be relaxed. Once relaxed, they’re less inclined to censor their thoughts as they are assured no judgement is being passed. This encourages interesting, and more importantly, honest insights.


“Be wary of leading the participant to the answers you want to hear”

- Kate Birch

Remember: the purpose of a usability test isn’t to get the participant to agree with you. Instead, it’s important you tap into their line of thought. Ask open questions, draw on their reflections for day-to-day experiences; drill in from there.


It is imperative that your product is tailor-made to existing user problems, not the problems you perceive or the solution you think is best.


“Understanding the need for the product is the key to understanding how to improve the product.”

- Luke Thomas

Try to uncover what the participant does in similar circumstances and how the existing alternatives they currently use overcome their problem. Once you understand the need and the shortcomings of previous solutions - it should be pretty obvious how to improve your own product.


“Is there anything you would like to add?”

- Rebecca Stockdale

This can be an absolute gold mine for finding extra, valuable, information. Your participant is now running off script and can now share opinions and knowledge on things they felt were not asked during the session. Not only does this question give your participants free roam, it can also alleviate some of the fears of missing an important question out.


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